Why teeth whitening treatment?
Teeth stains are normal and inevitable and may be caused by factors like ageing, long term tobacco usage or the consumption of certain food and beverages that contain staining agents, such as coffee, tea and wine. To correct these stains, you may consider chairside teeth whitening treatment at the dentist or purchasing take home teeth whitening kits. A teeth whitening treatment may be the answer you need for your dream smile.
Are all tooth discolouration the same?
Not all tooth stains were created equal. The types of tooth discolouration include:
Extrinsic Teeth Stains
These are surface stains, most commonly caused by tobacco use, coffee, wine and other foods that contain staining agents. Extrinsic stains occur when stained particles accumulate in the film of protein that cover your teeth enamel. Extrinsic stains can be easily removed through regular dental cleaning and brushing with whitening toothpastes, but severe staining would do better with teeth whitening treatment either through chairside teeth whitening treatment at the dentist or a take home teeth whitening kit.
Intrinsic Teeth Stains
These are internal stains, most commonly caused by an over exposure to fluoride at an early age, childhood fevers or trauma in an adult tooth. Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic stains happen below the surface of your teeth. Intrinsic stains accumulate within developing teeth. Removing intrinsic teeth stains may require bleaching by a professional (chairside teeth whitening treatment) or a layer of material to mask the colour (composite or porcelain veneers). For intrinsic stains, over-the-counter take home teeth whitening kits will not help much.
Age-Related Teeth discolouration
This could be both extrinsic and intrinsic factors. As we get older, the enamel that covers the teeth becomes thinner over time from abrasion such as teeth brushing, which allows the colour of the dentine to show through. Extrinsic factors such as smoking and excessive consumption of acidic food could result in staining of the teeth, and intrinsic factors such as chips or injuries to the teeth could result in the discolouration of the teeth.
Root canal treated teeth
Previous long-standing root canal treated teeth can also discolour due to the drying out of the teeth over time. These teeth require dental crowns to reinforce them and correct the discolouration.
What are some teeth whitening treatment methods?
Most teeth surface stains can be removed with just a simple dental cleaning with your dentist, however, more stubborn teeth stains are unable to be removed. For those with deeper and stubborn teeth stains that cannot be whitened with in-office teeth whitening treatment, you may look into doing resin laminates or Porcelain Veneers to change the colour and mask deeper stains.
Teeth Whitening (Bleaching)
Teeth whitening is good for individuals who do not have terribly stained teeth and still have a good amount of teeth enamel. While teeth whitening will enhance the colour of your natural teeth, it will not remove existing stains, which may result in a greater colour difference. The only active ingredient in Dental Teeth Whitening is Hydrogen Peroxide Gel. Hydrogen Peroxide is a chemical ingredient used to whiten teeth. Due to regulations, only approved dental practices are allowed to use teeth whitening products with a concentration more than 5% of Hydrogen Peroxide. Most chair-side bleaching systems would use a 30% Hydrogen Peroxide concentration as your dentist is trained to protect the gums during the process. Do check with your dentist to see whether you are suitable for teeth whitening. Teeth whitening at the dentist is faster due to a LED blue wavelength light the dentist uses to activate the peroxide gel.
Take-home whitening kit
Patients who prefer to undergo treatment from their own home can request for a custom-made whitening tray or teeth whitening kit from the dentist. Take-home teeth whitening kits are a lot less convenient as patients have to use the trays every day for an extended period with no breaks in between. However, the whitening process may take a longer time and may not be as effective as the in-house office teeth whitening with the dentist.
Popular over-the-counter products include teeth whitening strips. We do not recommend over-the-counter whitening products as they are generally ineffective. As mentioned, only dentists are allowed to use teeth whitening products that contain more than 5% Hydrogen Peroxide. Hence, majority of these over-the-counter whitening products use Sodium Perborate to ‘whiten’ teeth instead. What Sodium Perborate does is merely does it to temporarily lighten teeth instead of whiten them.
How do I maintain my white teeth after teeth whitening?
- Maintain good oral hygiene habits. Adopt a dental routine that consists of brushing daily and regular flossing to avoid plaque buildup. Plaque is what makes teeth appear darker than it is. For extra protection, use a toothpaste that protects against staining.
- See a dentist regularly. Besides regularly cleaning your teeth at home, a dentist can give professional cleaning and polishing that help effectively remove surface stains.
- Avoid drinking coffee, tea and red wine. A surefire way to stain your teeth is through continuous consumption of food and drinks with staining agents. If you find it hard to give up your coffee or tea, consider using straws or rinse your mouth immediately after consumption.
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid coloured foods
You may eat or drink anything during the first 24 hours after whitening, but it may reduce the longevity of the result. Therefore, it’s especially important to avoid the above-mentioned factors during the first 24 hours.
- Get a teeth whitening kit from your dentist. You can maintain your newly whitened teeth with a take-home teeth whitening kit to regularly touch up your teeth.
Is teeth whitening safe?
If performed by a skilled and professional dentist, teeth whitening is generally safe. That being said, certain products or treatments may result in health consequences. As such, before undergoing any form of teeth whitening, it is important to check whether the particular product or treatment has been clinically approved.
How long does teeth whitening last?
Teeth whitening is not permanent. While the effects of teeth whitening will vary among people, generally, the effects last for about 1 to 3 years depending on method and brand. This highly depends on your diet and lifestyle habits. Individuals who smoke and/or consume alcohol can expect their teeth whitening effects to be shorter.
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